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Disproportionate Yet?

July 25, 2006

The IDF has employed a new tactic in their bombardment of Lebanon: “Army chief of staff Dan Halutz has given the order to the air force to destroy 10 multi-storey buildings in the Dahaya district (of Beirut) in response to every rocket fired on Haifa,” a senior air force officer told army radio on Monday.”

Surely those who keep resisting the assertion by many of us that Israel’s response has been disproportionate over these last two weeks have no ammunition left to defend what was already a feeble case. Destroying 10 multi-storey buildings in Beirut for every rocket fired on Haifa is an astounding and brutal tactic to employ – particularly when the Lebanese civilian death toll is already hovering around 400. If you want to simplify things into black and white (which our right wing counterparts seem to love to do with everything else), then on civilian deaths alone, Israel’s response has been extremely disproportionate – roughly 400 innocent Lebanese civilians dead to roughly 30 innocent Israeli civilians dead. How many more officials need to verify from the ground in Lebanon that Israel’s response has been totally disproportionate and is in effect destroying Lebanon before those who think everything Israel is doing is legitimate sit up and take notice of what is actually happening?

My question is this: If the Israeli response is a measured and targeted one as they keep claiming that it is, then why the automatic mandatory order to destroy 10 multi-storey buildings for every rocket fired at Haifa? What if there are only 7 buildings with Hezbollah fighters in them at the time of this mandatory destruction? What if there is only 1? What if there are none? As Lebanese infrastructure crumbles, more and more Lebanese citizens are becoming angry with Israel, including some Lebanese Christians who have not escaped Israel’s bombing either. This is not going to help Israel in the long run and has the potential to escalate this conflict into an all out regional war – with the possibility that as the bombing continues, Sunnis and Shiites may put their differences aside to unite against their common enemy – Israel. I think in this regard, the longer the conflict drags on (and with such entrenched determination from both sides not to budge, it seems like it will drag on for quite some time), the worse it is for everyone – including Israel whose northern regions are indeed feeling the terrible wrath of Hezbollah’s Katyusha rockets that, it should be noted, have not stopped being fired despite Israel’s massive campaign in the last two weeks.

What is happening in Israel and Lebanon is a tragedy. Both sides need to stop this madness – but neither will. Israel’s military machine has turned a small localised guerilla Southern Lebanese/Northern Israeli conflict into an all out war which has only exacerbated each side’s hatred for each other as well as created new recruits to each cause.

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